Edsall and Sornson win True Grit Epic

On Saturday, The True Grit Epic opened the Kenda NUE Series with an 89-mile race, nearly all off-road, heading from Tonaquint to Santa Clara and back just outside the city of St. George in Southern Utah. Since joining the series two years ago, the race has nearly doubled in size with 373 registered racers this year.

Racers were treated to sunny skies and mild temperatures in the 70s. However, the buzz, or perhaps more aptly described as "the roar", at the race was the high gusting winds. All pop up tents and anything not staked to the ground were taken down. The finish line arch was safely tucked away to prevent it from becoming a large tire kite soaring over the desert mountains. From the start/finish area, spectators were witness to the dust clouds trailing up high into the sky trailing behind racers as they descended the ridge toward the finish line.


Drew Edsall (Pro's Closet/Stans NoTubes) started his season off big at True Grit with a winning time of 6:40:44, a minute faster than the course record set by last year's winner, Alex Grant, Sho-Air/Cannondale (6:41:37).

"I felt great from the start and pretty much stayed that way all the way up to hour five where a little dehydration starting kicking in," said Edsall. "That's tough to see happen in a 100-mile race. My legs were phenomenal from the get go."

Cary Smith (The Hub Bikes) finished less than three minutes back at 6:43:29 for second place. Brent Pontius (Rooster's/Biker's Edge) rolled in seven minutes later at 6:50:53 to capture the third spot.

Four minutes later, Dana Weber (Stage 21) finished fourth at 6:54:49, one of just four racers to go sub-seven hours on the day. Two minutes separated Mark Trump, 7:05:36, from Jonathan Davis (92Fifty' Racing). Davis, who finished fifth last year, clocked in at 7:07:34.

Josh Tostado (Santa cruz/Maxxis/Shimano) who finished sub-7 in third place last year, had derailleur difficulties early in the race and was forced to return to make the repair. Even though the repair put him an hour behind the field, rather than sulking or quitting, Tostado returned to and completed the race, still managing to finish 24th on the day.


Defending NUE Women's Champion, Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Cycling) got off to a great start this season by taking the top spot on the podium in 7:55:54, over half hour faster than last year.

"It was so good to be in sunny St. George for the weekend and a welcome escape from the cold in the east," said Sornson. "Having done the race last year, I was excited to come back and enjoy the techy desert riding. I also had a goal to best last year's time of 08:36:04."

Sornson enjoyed the new flow of the course as well as organizers splitting the race's start into two groups.

Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) placed second in 8:18:03, "I was happy to be in St. George with a great crew and the course was as tough as it promised!" said Looney. "I rode my own race, taking it easy for the first 3.5 hours and cranked up the intensity later. My plan of attack later didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked due to several factors, with the biggest being that my front brake completely stopped working at the start of the second lap with about 3.5 hours to go!"

Looney juggled navigating and keeping her speed in check. "I refused to give up as long as I was riding safe," she said. "I was happy with my overall technical ability, especially since it was my first time on rocky singletrack in many months. Any day on dirt is a good day!"

Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) placed third in 9:13:14, seven minutes faster than last year.


The singlespeed battle picked up from where it left off last season. Five-time defending NUE Series Singlespeed Champion Gerry Pflug (Rare Disease Cycling) narrowly edged out AJ Linnell. The Pfluginator crushed it in 7:08:10, 22 minutes faster than last year's win..

"Like last year, the True Grit 100 was a blast to ride. But I thought the course was even more fun this year with only doing two laps of the Barrel Roll loop instead of four," said Pfluginator.

Linnell finished six minutes back at 7:14:13 to take second. Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles and Twin 6) was third in 7:48:02. Trevor Rockwell (Team Noah Foundation/Decorah Bicycles) was fourth at 8:06:33.


Defending NUE Masters Champion, Marland Whaley (Hammer Nutrition/Red Barn Bicycles) got off to a rousing start by finishing 35 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor at 7:51:39, the only sub-eight-hour in the division.

"After last year's fiasco, this was a race I had to do to redeem myself and yet wanted to put it behind me ASAP," said Whaley. "It's a more technical race than I would prefer so, last year, after slashing two tires before the sun had even come up then crashing on Zen trying to catch up and leaving the race with my arm in a sling, I have been somewhat paranoid."

Todd Cassan (Rocinante) took second in 8:26:52 then one minute later, David Johnson (Cafe Velo) claimed third in 8:27:09. John Lauk and Gary Gardiner (both Bountiful Bicycle Race Team) finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Round 2 of the NUE Series will be the Cohutta 100 on April 26 in Ducktown, Tennessee.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Drew Edsall (Pro's Closet / Stans No Tubes)6:40:44
2Cary Smith (The Hub Bikes)0:02:46
3Brent Pontius (Rooster's / Biker's Edge)0:10:09
4Dana Weber (Stage 21)0:14:05
5Mark Trump (Mark Trump)0:24:53
6Jonathan Davis (92Fifty' Racing)0:26:50
7Matt Woodruff (Kuhl)0:43:47
8Hunter Keating (Harmony Systems Pro Cycling)0:45:36
9Houston Peschl (Cafe Racers)0:53:38
10Darrell Roundy (Wild CHild Cycles)0:56:06
11Scott Leonard (Mountain Flyer magazine)1:10:39
12Kurtis Bond (Cafe Racers)1:16:19
13Ryan Cook1:17:16
14Mark Mccann (Las Vegas Cyclery)1:18:37
15Ross Toelcke (Great Northern Cycles)1:19:49
16Paul Berry (spoke/rocky mountain)1:22:19
17Billy Wood (92Fifty)1:26:44
18Curt Wilhelm (92Fifty/MTBCoach.com)1:39:20
19Steven Phillips2:04:54
20Richard Price (LTR Sports)2:09:48
21Ryan Thompson (Krankmunkyz)2:14:27
22Raymond Willard (Empire Brewing/Syracuse Bicycle)2:26:55
23Jonathan Broyles (Team Honky)2:38:13
24Josh Tostado2:40:37
25Christopher Barkow (Cheese Sammich)2:47:50
26Lee Simril (Motor mile racing)2:49:13
27Jeff Carlson (Cadre Racing)2:49:21
28Josh Fonner (Roam Life)2:49:59
29Randy Larrison (Cadre Racing)3:19:15
30Dominic Guinto (Carmichael Training Systems)3:21:16
DNFTerrence Gleason (TotalCyclist Mountain Bike Team)Row 30 - Cell 2
DNFCraig Donkin (Outer Circle Racing)Row 31 - Cell 2
DNFMarq Prince (John Wayne Cancer Foundation)Row 32 - Cell 2
DNFChris Bryce (Gnarleyspoke)Row 33 - Cell 2
DNFGraham Hymus (Eden Bicycles)Row 34 - Cell 2
DNFReed Abbott (Mad Dog Cycles/4Life/Brilliant Software)Row 35 - Cell 2
DNFKyle Taylor (92Fifty' Racing)Row 36 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Phipps (broken spoke)Row 37 - Cell 2
DNFJeff Kerkove (Team Topeak-Ergon)Row 38 - Cell 2
DNFIan Estes (Black Hills Bicycles)Row 39 - Cell 2
DNFJustin Lindine (Redline Factory / NBX)Row 40 - Cell 2
DNFJoshua BruhnRow 41 - Cell 2
DNFTJ Henshall (Team Rhino Rush)Row 42 - Cell 2
DNFGreg Lewis (Greg Lewis)Row 43 - Cell 2
DNSSkyler YoungRow 44 - Cell 2
DNSMark Gilbreath (Kryki Audi)Row 45 - Cell 2
DNSChad Chaumont (Cadre Racing)Row 46 - Cell 2
DNSJesse Kelly (Rare Disease Cycling)Row 47 - Cell 2
DNSYuri Cook (Fast Frog Racing)Row 48 - Cell 2
DNSKevin Godley (Team Duke)Row 49 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cheryl Sornson (Team Rare Disease Cycling)7:55:55
2Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon)0:22:09
3Brenda Simril (Motor mile)1:17:20
Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marland Whaley (Hammer Nutrition/Red Barn Bicycles/WTB)7:51:40
2Todd Cassan (Rocinante)0:35:13
3David Johnson (Cafe Velo)0:35:30
4Alex Hawkins (Back Alley Bikes)0:38:54
5John Lauck (Bountiful Bicycle p/b Mountain America C)0:51:09
6Gary Gardiner (Bountiful Bicycle Race Team)0:51:14
7Roger Sutton (Brick City Bicycles)0:51:56
8David Jolin (Stark Velo)1:04:23
9Thomas Hanrahan (DMBA/SilentSports)1:11:23
10Mark Drogalis (Toasted Head Racing)1:51:23
DNFCharles Buki (Rare Disease Cycling)Row 10 - Cell 2
DNFRobert WoolfRow 11 - Cell 2
DNSAnthony Hergert (Reality Bikes Racing)Row 12 - Cell 2
DNQJody Bailey (4Life/MadDog Race Team)Row 13 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gerry Pflug (Team Rare Disease)7:08:10
2AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/Ameri)0:06:03
3Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles and Twin 6)0:39:53
4Trevor Rockwell (Team Noah Foundation/Decorah Bicycles)0:58:23
5Jared Fisher (Las Vegas Cyclery)1:05:07
6Michael Carmody1:50:10
7Richard Long (CycleSmart Grassroots Team)2:03:54
8Christopher Latura2:16:41
DNFJamon Whitehead (CutThroat/ BeeHive)Row 8 - Cell 2
DNFAdam Gifford (Sedona Running Company)Row 9 - Cell 2
DNFJason Perez (RojoRacing/Team Diablo)Row 10 - Cell 2
DNSJoseph Reyes (Carlos Danger)Row 11 - Cell 2

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